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A Virgin Among the Living Dead

Though she had worked for him as early as 1960, Soledad Miranda’s first major role for Jesus Franco was in his turn-of-the-70’s Christopher Lee vehicle Count Dracula. She very rapidly became the director’s favorite actress, and the frequently heard description of her as Franco’s muse is no exaggeration. However, she appeared in only eight of Franco’s dauntingly numerous movies, for she was crushed to death in a car wreck in 1970, shortly after completing The Devil Came from Akasava. She and her husband had been driving to West Germany at the time, where they were to meet with Franco to begin work on a string of films for producer Artur Brauner, who had been impressed by the reception that greeted Vampyros Lesbos at its West Berlin premiere.

Anyone unclear on what exactly is meant by the phrase “artistic temperament” should look to how Franco greeted Miranda’s death for a sterling example of that character type in action. The director was more than simply devastated. He became obsessed with his vanished starlet, and was haunted by her memory for years. When Lina Romay appeared in Franco’s life three years later, at least part of the instantaneous and overwhelming attraction he felt for her stemmed from his impression that Romay was “a little bit of a reincarnation” of Soledad Miranda. Weirder still, on at least one occasion, Franco is reported to have abandoned a shooting location because Miranda came to him in a dream and told him that the site he had originally chosen was for some reason unsuitable… read more >

 

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